ABL financing tools

Put This Powerful But Overlooked Financing Tool To Work For Your Company

Asset-based lending can be cost-effective, versatile and discreet

ABL financing tools

For some medium-sized companies in a growth phase, cash flow can become an issue when payables get ahead of receivables. For others, there may be opportunities to buy new equipment, to expand business or to acquire new businesses, but there just isn’t enough cash on hand to make a move. Whatever, the reason, there is a flexible, cost-effective and discreet way to finance these occasions. It’s called asset-based lending, or ABL.

Who turns to ABL? Glen Dalzell, Vice-President of Sales and Marketing for Liquid Capital, says that companies who take advantage of ABL are those who may not qualify for traditional bank lending, which is covenant- and ratio-driven. Others may simply not be getting enough funding through conventional bank lending and they need to augment available funds by getting additional availability from their assets.

“ABL is typically a revolving facility,” Dalzell says, “much like a line of credit from a bank.” The difference, he says, is that it’s more flexible and will generate “greater cash availability.” And like a line of credit, you only use as much money as you need, paying back the principal and  interest as you go along.

Long used by very large firms, ABL may have a place in a medium-sized company’s financial toolbox.  “If you took all your cash from receivables and bought equipment with it, you’d have a cash-flow problem,” Dalzell says. ABL can be used to space out that cash-flow shortfall. Firms who have less-than-perfect credit ratings—and there are many understandable reasons why this happens among the very best firms—may also want to turn to ABL.

Corporate assets, including inventory, equipment and real estate, can be considered and margined to raise cash through an ABL facility or you can sell your invoices to a lender. Subject to appraisal, a lender will lend against raw materials, finished goods and even work in progress. Equipment can be margined up to 75% of its liquidation value while real estate can be collateralized up to 75% of its market value. With invoices, a lender “buys” your receivables and when you collect on them you reimburse the lender.

One of the advantages of ABL over other forms of non-traditional lending such as factoring is confidentiality of the relationship between you and the lender. Some clients may question a firm that uses alternative methods such as factoring. With ABL, your receivables are deposited in a sweep account at your bank in your firm’s own name, from which an ABL lender collects its interest and principal payments. The process is invisible to your customers. In addition, with a better credit rating and demonstrable operations processes that the lender can understand and interrogate, your costs for ABL can be lower than with factoring.

Still, asset-based lending is not for everyone. Dalzell says that ABL is generally for medium-sized firms or larger.  “Typically, ABL comprises a minimum of $1 million to $5 million.” Larger firms, he says, have more complex cash needs and the amount of collateral required has to be large enough to warrant the costs of ABL.

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successful small business office

How To Set Up Your Office For Success

successful small business office

Whether your business is growing in a commercial space or expanding its production facility, office set up affects your success.

One of the easiest, most economical ways to transform an office is paint. Select the color carefully. The color you choose will impact behavior. Kim Lachance Shandrow, a senior editor for Entrepreneur, writes about the power of color in her article How The Color of Your Office Impacts Productivity. Whites, taupes and grays can appear as blandor too institutional. Shandrow suggests blues and greens to improve efficiency and focus. Go with yellow to boost innovation and creativity.

Ergonomics make a significant difference in productivity as well. British manufacturer CMD creates furniture and lighting/technology solutions for commercial environments. Its blog post Five Facts You Need To Know About Ergonomics explains how correct ergonomics increase worker productivity by 11 percent. A poor set up can cause musculoskeletal injuries, which account for one-third of workday injuries and illnesses.

Choosing office furniture that is adjustable to the individual is a good start. Ideally when sitting at a desk, employees should be eye-level in front of a computer monitor with feet comfortably flat on the floor and arms at a right angle with wrists straight. Another choice: a standing desk, which experts say reduces the risk of diseases such as diabetes and cancer. The simple act of standing can burn an extra 750 calories over five three-hour workdays.

Lighting is another consideration. Andrew Jensen, a business growth and efficiency consultant, writes in his blog post How Office Lighting Affects Productivity that artificial lighting can cause eye strain and headaches. In fact, it is one of the most likely office features to negatively affect motivation.

Jensen explains: “With light being a key component of vision, and vision being responsible for 80 to 85 percent of our perception of the world around us, it’s not difficult to see why ignoring proper lighting strategies in your office could have a significant negative impact on productivity. Harsh lighting and dim lighting are equally detrimental to the productivity of your workers, and, by opting instead for more natural lighting or other lighting systems that have been proven effective, you stand to not only save energy but also increase productivity among your business’s employees.”

Ready to deck out your office? Begin by benchmarking and peek at other companies’ interiors. Inc.com highlighted the World’s Coolest Offices 2015 last fall, picking winners for offices from large to small. The common denominator: open concept, functionality, communal spaces and touches that inspire creativity.

Recent Fundings – April 2016